Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT) (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Daniel Lee Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI
Dr. Kulick received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Southern California, School of Medicine. He performed his residency in internal medicine at the Harbor-University of California Los Angeles Medical Center and a fellowship in the section of cardiology at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- What is paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)?
- What are the symptoms of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)?
- How is paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)?
- How can paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) be prevented?
- Find a local Cardiologist in your town
What is the treatment for paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)?
There is a stepwise approach to treating the rapid heartbeat of PSVT.
Vasovagal maneuvers stimulate the vagus nerve and can slow the heart rate. Some options include holding one's breath and bearing down as if to have a bowel movement or splashing cold water on the face. A care professional might cautiously massage the carotid artery in the neck, but in older patients, there is a risk of stroke and this procedure is usually reserved for younger patients.
Depending upon the heart rhythm, medications can be injected intravenously to reset the AV node or to decrease heart muscle excitability. Adenosine is a short-acting medication that is commonly used as a first-line drug to treat PSVT. Other treatment options for other atrial tachycardias include calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, digoxin, and amiodarone.
If the PSVT does not convert with intravenous medication or if the patient has low blood pressure or complains of chest pain or shortness of breath, cardioversion may be required. This means that an electrical shock is given that resets the heart's electrical system to beat with a regular rate and rhythm.
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